New information regarding VSU pandemic related funding and other Coronavirus Related updates.
Greetings VSU Faculty, Staff, and Students,
We hope that you and your family are well and safe. As we continue to face these ever challenging and unprecedented times, we remain encouraged as we work to ensure the well-being of our academic community.
We thank each of you for your patience, support, and dedication as we continue to work together to advance our academic mission. In the midst of this pandemic and beyond, we remain committed to providing a transformative collegiate experience for our students.
The effects of this crisis were sudden and immensely impactful. There is no doubt that this pandemic will continue to have a material significance on the University’s budget and revenue sources. The VSU Administration continues to look for meaningful ways to assist our campus community, especially our students, while ensuring the sustainability of our University.
VSU President, Dr. Makola M. Abdullah has released a new University Address outlining a number of funding updates and initiatives which will impact VSU.
For more information about the topics discussed in President Abdullah’s University Address, please see the below highlights.
VSU Will Receive Federal Stimulus Monies:
- VSU received notification that it is approved to receive approximately$6.8 million in federal stimulus monies under the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act.
- The $6.8 million in funds are to be used for covering costs of instruction and responses due to disruption caused by COVID-19.
- There is an additional $1.1 billion in federal stimulus money being directed to minority serving institutions in which VSU will receive a share.
- The distribution of the funds should give priority to the neediest students and attempt to optimize the number of students receiving such aid.
- VSU will receive half of the allocation now (approximately $3.4 million) to be distributed directly to students impacted by COVID-19. The remaining half will be distributed later directly to the University.
- We want to use some of the initial allocation to give immediate relief to students. We plan to use a portion for students who might have been impacted and cannot return to college. We have a full year to use the funds.
- We are working to develop a process to begin distributing the money immediately.
- In the spirit of shared governance, we will include students (via your SGA President), faculty and staff (via University Council and Faculty Council) and alumni (via our National Alumni President.)
- The plan is being worked on now and should be available in the next few weeks.
Governor Ralph Northam Places Budget Bill On Hold:
- Unfortunately, the State is now experiencing revenue and cash flow shortages due to the coronavirus. As a result, the Governor notified all state agencies (including VSU) this week that the budget bill will be placed on hold.
- VSU was on pace to receive a historic budget package from the State for nearly $170 million over the next biennium. The University successfully had this amount included in the Governor’s budget. We felt confident that the Bill would gain approval as the Bill worked its way through both the House and the Senate.
- This package included funds for the following:
- To construct a new academic building to replace Harris Hall and the Daniel Gymnasium
- Construct a new building for Admissions and Institutional Advancement
- Make Infrastructure improvements for technology, waterproofing, and various deferred maintenance issues
- Infuse about $20 million in additional operating support for various initiative to help the university improve recruitment and retention of students
- Again, due to the State experiencing revenue and cash flow shortages due to the coronavirus, the Governor notified all state agencies (including VSU) this week that the budget bill will be placed on hold.
The Budget Bill’s Impact on VSU’s Academic Commons Building Project:
- While the COVID 19 response and resulting state budget shortfall has prohibited allotting funds for projects at this time, the Demolish/Replace Daniel Gym and Harris Hall project is still approved to advance once state revenues allow. We will continue to keep you updated.
VSU Announces Housing Refund for Students:
- In an effort to minimize the financial impact on students and families, Virginia State University will be making adjustments to room and board for all students residing in the residence halls with an effective date of March 18, 2020. The University has worked to develop a refund/rebate protocol that is appropriate and fair while also taking into consideration the financial obligation for existing contracts and services. As part of the university’s shared governance model, we had representation from the Student Government Association (SGA), Faculty Senate, and Staff Senate. All approved the recommendation to move forward with the room and board rebates.
- The sum of these credits will be posted to your VSU student account and applied to any outstanding balance you have in the form of a rebate. Once your outstanding balance is satisfied, any overage (rebate in excess of the amount you previously owed) will be refunded to you. The average rebate amount is $1,327.
- Click here for more information
VSU Institutional Advancement Creates Fund to Assist Students:
- Our students are currently facing unforeseen hardships and their needs vary from food, transportation, housing and academic resources.
- We are asking for your help in supporting the Trojan Spirit Fund. This immediate assistance helps meet the urgent needs of VSU students impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak.
- It is in true Trojan spirit that we ask that you support our deserving and resilient students. We will come together to provide our students with the necessities to continue their transformative experience here at Virginia State University.
- Please give now to the Trojan Spirit Fund.
VSU Implements New Grading Standards:
- In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, The University recently transitioned to remote instruction to ensure the health and safety of the University community amidst the uncertainties of the pandemic.
- We recognize the additional stress that this abrupt change may bring and are sensitive to the needs of our students and faculty as we navigate the challenges of this new academic environment. Therefore, in consultation with the VSU Administration, leadership of the Faculty Senate, the SGA, the Academic Credits Committee, and Staff, VSU has implemented a set of measures designed to increase flexibility and enhance student success during their acclimation to the new remote instruction learning environment for the Spring 2020 semester. Please see the FAQs on the VSU website.
- Due to COVID-19 the withdrawal from a course date has been extended to Wednesday, April 29, 2020.
Proposed Legislation to Permit Governing Board to hold Virtual Meeting:
- Governor Ralph Northam has proposed legislation to permit governing boards to hold meetings by electronic communication to discuss or transact the business statutorily required or necessary to continue operations of the public body when the Governor has declared a state of emergency. The Code of Virginia currently permits governing boards to meet electronically when a state of emergency is declared if the purpose of the meeting is to address the emergency.
- President Abdullah has maintained close contact with the Board of Visitors of Virginia State University through telephone calls, emails, and weekly updates. The Governor’s proposed legislation means that the Board would be able to come together in virtual meetings to discuss the impact of COVID- 19 and other University business such as the 2020-2021 budget. We anticipate that the General Assembly will vote to approve the legislation.